The Five-word Challenge

Monday, November 23, 2009

Diane from the “That’s What I’m Here For” Blog, is passing along five words to any writer willing to play her game. The challenge in this game is to incorporate five mystery words she comes up with into their story. So, I thought, “Sure, I’ll try it.” Well, sweet person that she is, she gave me TWO sets of words from I could choose.

Set One:
square, chocolate, moon, hiccups, and love.

Set Two:
hiccups, bump, knit, nesting and waddle.

But I love a good challenge, so I'm going to try fitting in all ten--well, nine since 'hiccups' is used twice.

AND... here's the scene I came up with:

Pregnant, broke, and starving were a trio of words that should never be mixed. Cora Bristol knew her life sucked when she realized she was all three. She glanced down at the change in her palm—a single dollar, five quarters, three dimes, two nickels and eight pennies—and then up again at the booths of vendors surrounding her, lining the mall’s expansive food court. Pizza, submarines, hamburgers, salad bars, snack counters; a veritable smorgasbord of scrumptious delights.

Her mouth watered.

But what could she buy for $2.73?

The little hiccups of movement under her waistband reminded her the baby was getting hungry as well. She patted the restless bump, reassuring her child she would provide...something...and moved forward.

A couple strolling hand in hand, their heads tilted intimately toward each other as they murmured sweet nothings to one another, paused and shifted to the side, letting Cora waddle past them. She managed a tight smile of gratitude, though inside, envy gnawed at her stomach almost as viciously as the hunger did. But the two looked so in love, the kind of love she could only ache to obtain.

On their own accord, her feet bypassed the nutritious salad bar, and she found herself drawn toward the bakery. Her throat burned as her gaze gobbled up the fancy display of gigantic chocolate chip cookies and specially-made moon pies.

She knew she should move on. The baby needed a wholesome, hearty meal, something full of protein, calcium, vitamin C. This was not the time to indulge, especially with the sparse amount of cash she had clutched in her hand. But the little one nesting inside her gave another nudge to her belly, almost as if he was reassuring, “It’s okay, Mom. I WANT the sweets. Gimme the sweets.”

“Look good, don’t they?” a friendly, male voice asked, making her jump.

She darted a glance up and immediately shifted backward, feeling unreasonable guilty, like she’d just been caught stealing, when all she’d been doing was looking.

The teen behind the counter grinned as he leaned forward, resting his forearms on top of the glass display. His blue eyes twinkled at her. “So, what’ll you have?”

Cora’s brow knit as she glanced down at the arrangement of desserts, taking on the pose of intense contemplation, like she was truly deciding on what she wanted, when all along she knew she shouldn’t… wouldn’t buy anything here.

Biting her lip, she pointed out a lemon square. “Uh…How much for one of those?” she asked.

“Two, ninety-nine,” he answered, already pulling on a clear plastic glove to retrieve her requested item.

She glanced down at her change, though she already knew she didn’t have enough.

“What about the chocolate covered strawberries?” she rushed out.

He paused in mid stretch, his eyes darting up. She snapped her fingers closed around the change ashamed, but his gaze had already strayed toward her clenched fist. Still frozen with his hand only a few inches from the lemon square, he stared at her dollar bill peeking out from the crack between her knuckles.

“The chocolate-covered strawberries,” she repeated through gritted teeth. "How much?"

His gaze lifted, blue and innocent as a clear sunny sky. Then he glanced over his shoulder and further into the bakery.

“I tell you what,” he said, turning back and finishing his reach for the lemon square. Scooping up the two largest pieces, he set them on a plate and nudged it toward her. “Why don’t you try this little sample here before you make up your mind.”

Cora blinked at him.

After darting another peek over his shoulder, he plopped three chocolate-covered strawberries on the plate and then winked.

Her heart thumped against her ribcage. “Thank you,” she whispered, wishing Robbie could’ve possessed even half the compassion this total stranger did when she’d told them they were going to have a baby. As hormones rushed to the surface, she felt her tear ducts open and moisture coat her lashes. “Thank you so much.”


  1. Give me the chocolate covered strawberries!

    Love the story.

  2. Great story Linda. I especially love the way you used hiccups, bump, and waddle. :) Anyway, I looove it. You go! Hmm, no wonder you're published or going to be in Feb. You got IT!

    What's IT,? Dunno. Just know you got IT.

  3. So creative! Loved it and the emotional ride it took me through to the end. :O)

  4. Loved it, Linda. Vivid imagery and touching. I want the lemon squares.

  5. Thank you all for stopping by, you're so wonderfully supportive...and nice! Let me know if any of you take the Five-word challenge. I'd love to read your excerpts!

    And sorry, Tamika and Linda, but I already ate all chocolate covered strawberries and lemon squares! Hey, my baby was hungry.

  6. You did so much with those words! I was feeling so much empathy and hurt for her. Beautifully written. And waddle is just too fabulous of a word--it sounds like what it is.

  7. I think I'm in an especially mushy mood right now because that story made me cry... pregnancy makes people hungry.

  8. What fun! You are a really good impromptu writer. I suck at that kind of work so am always impressed when someone can just throw a great story like this together!

    Have a fantastic turkey day!

  9. My goodness...that was lovely. Good job, Linda. I knew you were a good writer, but wow :)

  10. This is a very cute idea! Love the story :)

  11. Honestly, guys, just because I'm a hormonal pregnant woman doesn't mean you have to be so wonderfully sweet...but I love it!!

    Thanks to Diane for giving me such awesome words to work with. Tricia is right--waddle is fabulous!

  12. Great work, Linda. I never have time to participate in these, but you guys make them so much fun to read.

  13. Love the look and feel of this blog.

    Patti Lacy

  14. Oh- fabulous story!! More, more!! Thanks for sharing.